Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Singer Improved Family

I have more or less decided to fit the Nolting in the Sewing Loft.  Steven agrees.  I think he would like to have the guest apartment for guests. 

My sewing loft is in the upstairs of our Dutch Barn.  It is so called because it looks like it came out of a picture book of Holland.  It has a gambrel roof with shingle siding.  All that is missing is the windmill.  It gets nice and toasty out there with the little Jotul stove but the firebox holds only enough fuel for a few hours.    Anything larger would cook us right out of there.  My solution, which I had proposed YEARS ago, is a hard wired, electric baseboard heater complete with thermostat set a 45-50.  Steven finally thinks this is a good idea.  We must contact our electrician and once the heater is installed,  hire someone to blow in the expanding foam insulation.  It’s the dead of winter now.  This is a spring/summer project.  I don’t know when Steven will contact our electrician.  I might ask him, but he  might perceive that as nagging. 

“Honey, would you consider it nagging if I asked you when you were going to contact J.”

(Pregnant pause long enough to complete gestation and deliver the baby)

“I don’t know when I am going to contact J.”

“That wasn’t the question.”  OK, OK, I could be considered a manipulative bitch, but he does love me.

(Another pause.  We now have Twins).

“I don’t know….”

“Good,  I will take that as a No.”

Now  I know that he doesn’t know when he will contact J. and that he doesn’t consider it nagging that I asked. 

“I think I will wait until it is warmer before I call him.  Why, do you think you are going to have that space ready soon?”

I confessed that I will not have the loft ready at all soon.  But I am preparing.

Today we brought the Singer Improved Family from it’s storage space in my sewing loft to the shop.  I have an interested party coming to look at it on Saturday.  I thought that I had better make sure it works, since I advertised thusly.

Ever see an IF shuttle? 

It is a bit of a pain to get the bobbin in there and threaded but it is doable.  I am thankful that Singer abandoned this in favor of the central bobbin with removable bobbin case. 

I used Howard’s Restor-a-finish on the cabinet and the bonnet.  I cleaned the irons superficially with Tuff Stuff and then rubbed them with a Goo Gone rag I had used on my hands.  The machine looks fine.  Of course, I don’t want to sell it now.  It is from 1886 and is one of my oldest machines. 

There is a chance that the interested party wants it for the irons to use for a bathroom vanity or such  Something tells me so.  If that is the case, he will go home empty handed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


I have Wednesdays off every week.  Technically I work part time.  That means I get paid for working 32 hours but I usually work more like 34-35.  It is just the nature of my job.

Today I had to go in for BLS refresher.  I was finished before 10 AM.  Now that I am certified for another two years, I can save human lives, should the occasion arise.  I hope it never does.

I much prefer saving sewing machines.

 I took Wilson to the vet later this morning for his suture removal.  He was such a good boy.  He just stood there while Dr. B. snipped those stitches away.  He didn't even flinch.   Then we went to the car wash.  That was a waste of 15 minutes and 4 dollars.  Just the same, for five minutes my not yet paid for car was clean.  OK, it was clean for longer than that, but the last three miles of the trip home rendered the car muddy and salty.  With sub zero temps coming I won't be able to wash the car for weeks.

I really thought that the BLS refresher would take all morning and that the suture removal would take much of the afternoon.  Not that taking out stitches is a big deal.  Trekking to the vet and waiting sometimes takes longer than one would think.  But, no.  I was home well before 1 PM.  Bonus time.  What to do with it all?

Get that 158.1931 out and see how wide that ZZ really is.  Which is exactly what I did, after I broke trail through the back field on snow shoes so the dogs would be able to get out of the yard.  We got out, but they wanted to come right back and Frannie said " No way, I will wait here."

I knew that I had a set of attachments for this machine.  I just couldn't find them.  I looked in my box of miscellaneous Kenmore attachments and cams but did not find the set.  I did find a button hole attachment and a full set of cams.  If nothing else, I could see how they worked.

The Kenmore 158.1931 has about a 5 mm ZZ.  The button hole attachment did work well. Very nifty  set up.   Not being a garment sewer I have little interest in button holes.   I can see why folks like a built in button hole stitch.   This attachment required some effort to set up but once attached to the machine it worked quite nicely.  I might even make some button holes, for fun.  

I played with some cams, too.  I have never had success with the duck, fish or tulip cams on other Kenmores.  They worked beautifully on this machine.  The built in special stitches were equally gorgeous.  So now what?

"No wonder I have a problem," I said to Steven as he helped himself to a snack.  "I love all these machines."

"Well, it's better than boats or cars."  he replied.

 It makes me nuts that I can't find stuff.  I remembered putting all the attachments that came with this machine in a box.  I knew that they had to be in the shop.  I looked for a third time, I moved a bunch of empty shoe boxes (I am saving them for some reason) and there they were.  WHEW!

Now, machine and attachments are all together in a canvas LL Bean bag I bought really cheap at the outlet store years ago. Who cares if my name isn't Harrison?  The bag is tough, big and will house this machine AND its attachments in one place.

So, it was a good day: BLS re-certified, Wilson sutureless and happy, sewing machine and attachments reunited, car cleaner than it was and a path made for the dog walk.

Oh, yes, and Steven did the dishes tonight.  I suppose I should make note of it on the calendar.


Sunday, February 1, 2015


I think that I am more comfortable.  I worked for another 75 minutes today.  Mom called and as it was time to advance the quilt, I figured it was a good time to quit.

I am learning how to use the bobbin winder.  Making mistakes helps.

I turned up the speed a bit.  I don't remember this much lint from yesterday. 

I think I will swab out the hook tomorrow.
 I am already thinking how nice a stitch regulator and more room would be.  Hmmmm  Maybe I will retire later than I planned.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


I did have a chance to play on the Nolting today. By noon it was warm enough in the apartment (55) for me.

 I ran the machine without thread and bobbin case for about five minutes as advised.  I set my channel lock and basted each side in a long, slow stitch.  The machine has a speed control.  For basting I used about 10 percent.

I hiked it up to about 30 percent for stitching.   I felt comfortable at that so inched it up to 35 percent.  Plenty of speed.  The Bailey was so slow compared to this machine.  I tried 40% but it felt much faster than 35 and I backed it off.

I make larger designs with this machine.

That may just be because I have no defining shapes on the practice muslin to restrain my designs.  The machine moves nicely, I am not fighting with it at all.  I think it's just a matter of practice.

I did have some tension problems after I advanced the quilt. Something was terribly wrong.  I think that maybe I wound the quilt too tightly when I advanced it.  I doubt it was because the bobbin was running out of thread.  This didn't happen when I, later, ran out of blue bobbin thread.
  The quilt is rolled onto the take up roller. It might be hard to orient your eye, but the blue stitching is the top of the new, and improved, stitching. The red chaos, eyelashing, is actually the bottom of the piece wound onto the take up roller. This photo may help. 

You may be wondering what that bobbin case is doing on the quilt in the previous photo.  Joyce advised that I remove it and un-thread the machine to before the TUL (take up lever) at the end of my quilting session.  That way the machine is ready for warm up at the next session.  Just imagine the mess if I started the machine up to warm it up, threaded and with a bobbin case.  ACK.

Thanks to Joyce and Ron of Delightful Quilting and Sewing, Avon, NY.  I am on my way!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Electronic Singer 9022

Fridays at  the Quilt Zoo  you can go and sew on any project that you would like.  Nina and Bonnie help if you need it. It really is quite a bit of fun.  I was FINALLY able to get there this past Friday.

"Oh good." Said Nina.  "Did you get a call about a sewing machine?'

"No." said I wondering if I should check the cell phone for messages (Turns out Betsy got the call and forgot to tell me)

Any way.  Someone dropped off a machine.

"She really wants to start sewing again." declared Nina

So I hauled the thing home.

Saturday morning I lit a fire in the shop, in the loft and kept the one in the house going. Winter is hard when you heat with wood.   By noon it was 60 F in the shop and I I was able to get to work on the machine.

I was unimpressed.

It is an electronic machine and at first I thought that I wouldn't even try to work on it.  Financial need (remember the Nolting?) overtook my trepidation.  I called the owner.  She told me that she was having trouble with the tension. " Big loops on the bottom " she declared.

OK. Big loops on the bottom mean that the top tension is too loose.    I looked.  She had it set all the way up. It could also mean that the bobbin tension was too tight.

First things first.  Clean the machine. Now that I have more experience with machines, I get caught up in the process.  When I was less experienced, I would take photo after photo to keep track of what I had taken apart.  Now I just go for it. Hence, less blog fodder. 

I regret that I didn't take more photos.  There is a camstack in the top but it is operated by the electronic function.  Incidentally, the machine had thick, hardened grease in the most incongruous places.

 Since it didn't seem to be affecting the function and I was actually working for money, not love, I did not chip this stuff away.  The renowned and inveterate Ray White would have declared that this was "cosmetic only."

I tackled the shuttle and bobbin area first.  The needle plate popped right off.

 The bobbin case came out pretty easily too.  I remember from previous Singers of this vintage, that there is a tab that must be moved back to release the bobbin case.

The bobbin case looked pretty good for a plastic piece.  No major dings and I couldn't find any thread caught in the spring.  I cleaned it all out with the compressor.  Seemed fine.  

The slide plate did not come off easily and it perplexed me.  Luckily I have some service manuals for Singers of this era.  While I did not have one for this machine, I found instructions for slide plate removal for a similar model.

There is a spring that is released with pressure from a small screwdriver just under the slide plate.

I turned over the machine and found it.
I was then able to remove the slide plate and gain good access to the hook.  I found a pretty good burr on the hook. AHA.  That could explain tight tension on the bottom.  I polished the hook in place. I blew all the lint away with the compressor and cleaned and  oiled what I could reach.  I checked the feed dog screws to be sure they were tight and called it good.

I did take off the top and the face plate.  I don't have photos of that.  There wasn't much to see.  I oiled what I could and checked the BW tire and elected to not delve into the hand wheel.  It has one of those odd clutch release mechanisms; you just push on one side of the center of the hand wheel and it releases the motor from the drive shaft, or what ever in an electronic machine.  Since all was working just fine, I closed up the top and headed south.

One screw allowed access to the shuttle gears.

More dust and more hardened grease.  I carefully turned the hand wheel to inspect the shuttle gears for cracks.

I thought I saw one.  Uh Oh.  Nope.  Only a piece of thread. 

Honestly,  I just cleaned out inside of this area as best I could.  I didn't see the point in putting any lubrication on these gears..  I have Tri Flow grease but I think that would just attract dirt.

I removed the base and discovered this.  Those wires travel up to the top and connect somehow with the camstack.  I have no interest in learning how

I did inspect the motor and found that the commutator was filthy so I cleaned it up with one of my Ray White abrasive sticks.  I need more.  I had no interest in removing the motor.  I could see both brushes well enough to determine that they were adequate.

I oiled all the points where metal met metal and closed her back up.

When I tested the machine, it sewed quite nicely.   I tested almost all of the stitches and they all worked.  I did not test the button hole function.  I set the tension at 3 and all was good.

I called the owner.  She was surprised it was ready so quickly.

I advised her that I wasn't sure the machine was up to the purpose she intends.  She wants to make bags.  If the bags aren't too heavy, she will be fine.  That motor looks wimpy to me.  It sounds wimpy and overall I am not a fan.

If fixing this machine gets someone sewing again, excellent.  After all, the more people who sew, the better the world will be.

At this rate, I only have 95 more machines to fix before I have enough cash for the Nolting.  Don't forget.  I sold the Bailey, one Featherweight and a Viking.  It is a good thing I have a day job because the Nolting arrives on Friday.

We are ready.
The frame is twelve feet long.  This is the only place on all of our property where it will fit.  Stay tuned.

Wilson is ready too.
Tomorrow he has surgery to remove his spleen.  I have been working to get him to go into his crate voluntarily since last week.  Tonight he got off the couch and stood in front of the crate and gave me a look : "how about something soft in there?"  I put in the blanket and he followed, turned once around and went to sleep. 

I guess all that turkey and all those clicks worked.  I will send that blanket with him to have while he is at the vet.  It smells like home (especially Wrigley who has Poodle hair but Lab smell).